Classic Marble Babka


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: babka [bah-b-kah]
DESCRIPTION: marble cake
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Babka002
Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Babka004

In Poland, we usually bake babka for Easter, but it is so quick, easy to prepare and everyone loves it, so it is great for any party or just as a weekend’s treat. There are many different recipes for babka, but I really like this one, since the cake is nice and moist inside, and stays fresh for good few days.


Depending on your form, about 12-16 servings • Preparation time: about 90 minutes • Baking time: about 60 minutes


INGREDIENTS:


250 g all-purpose flour
220 g sugar
150 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
 5 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon potato flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla powder

METHOD:


01
Melt the butter in a saucepan.

02
Sift both flours together with the baking powder to make sure they are thoroughly mixed.

03
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are shiny, silky smooth, and almost white.

04
Once the eggs are ready, add the oil and butter. It is best to keep mixing while slowly trickling the butter in. This way the butter will get mixed into the eggs immediately and not sink to the bottom of your bowl.

05
Split the eggs into two equal parts to make them into two different flavours. You will also need to split the flour. Now, add vanilla powder and a half of the flour to one of the bowls with beaten. Blend until all ingredients are perfectly mixed. This is will be your vanilla batter.

06
Then, take out two tablespoons from the other half of the flour and replace them with two tablespoons of cocoa. Mix the cocoa into the flour with a whisk, before adding them to the second bowl with beaten eggs. Blend until perfectly combined. This way your chocolate batter is ready as well.

07
Grease the form with oil and get the oven hot to about 180ºC. Pour both flavours of batter into the form in patches alternating the flavours. After you have finished, take something thin and long, such as a chopstick or a kitting needle, and gently drag it around the form. Do not mix the batters, just stir them a little for a nice marble effect.

08
The way of baking a babka is very important. It needs to raise equally on all sides and not burn. Start from about 180ºC for about 30 minutes, then bake for another half an hours at about 160ºC. Check on your cake from time to time during baking (through the glass, opening the oven will lower the temperature) and if you notice it is rising more on one of the sides, you can turn the form and reduce the temperature a little. It may crack a bit, do not worry about it. Getting it absolutely perfect may take one or two goes, since it differs from one oven to another.

09
Babka needs to have a nice, golden crust. When you see it, take it out and check the inside. In order to do that, use a thin, metal probe, such as a knitting needle, and pierce the cake all the way through. Any liquid batter will stick to the needle and make it dirty. It is a sign your babka is not ready yet. Bake it until the probe is perfectly clean.

10
When ready, take it out of the oven and cool before flipping onto a plate and gently removing the form. Dust with powder sugar, or finish with caramel or lemon glaze.

Enjoy!


Tradition Invented The Migration of Food

(…) cuisine is a journey, an eternal migration, with the bundles of wanderers carrying culinary secrets, seeds and the memory of ancestors.

Monika Kucia

Tradition Invented–The Migration of Food, Przekrój Magazine

Amsterdam

For a photographer who makes an effort of bringing her equipment with her, I take surprisingly few photos during trips. During my years of travelling, I have learnt that I prefer to go back to a handful of beautiful photographs rather than tens or hundreds of quick, poorly planned snapshots.

Here are few impressions from our recent visit to Amsterdam. I am usually very (or perhaps even “over”) organised, but this time, we were in a mood for a spontaneous walk in the afternoon sun. Both the weather and the city did not disappoint.

Amsterdam’s many bridges are always such a wonderful subject for photography, especially in this amazing afternoon light. They are so full of life, too! So many tourists, different languages and always some confusion in regards to directions and destinations. They are truly fascinating!

The designer in me stops at every beautiful store-front in sight. Thankfully, my patient husband waits for me (if slightly baffled as of why I would take so many photographs of logos and lettering). I actually tend to stop suddenly, charmed by some design or architectural detail and forget to let him know, so it is a while before her realises I am not right behind him.

Of course, you cannot have Amsterdam without its bicycles! Living and studying in Gent for several years, I have such a sentiment for old bikes. I have recently bought one here, in Luxembourg, as well and I adore it wholeheartedly. They are so soulful.

Delicious Mini Pasties with Lentils and Coriander Filling


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: paszteciki [pah-sh-teh-cheekey]
DESCRIPTION: lentil-filled pasties
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

These little treats are my family and friends’ absolute favourite. They are easy to make, they just take a little planning, and remember to make lots, since they disappear very quickly! The yeast dough rises in a fridge overnight, so it is a little different than basis yeast dough. It resembles something in between yeast dough and shortbread, flavourful and yet delicate and crispy. You definitely need to try them!


At least 20 servings (depending of the size of your pasties) • Preparation time: about 60 minutes (rising overnight)


TIPS:


01
Prepare the dough in the evening and let it rise overnight in a fridge.

02
Try different fillings! Everything resembling pâté, either made with meat or legumes, will be fine.

INGREDIENTS:


Dough:
350 g all-purpose flour
 250 ml warm milk
 100 g soft butter
 4 egg yolks
 7 g instant yeast
 1 tablespoon sugar
 ¾ teaspoon salt

Lentil filling:
 dry lentils
 1 bunch fresh coriander
 salt
 pepper

METHOD:


01
Sift the flour to a large bowl, add the yeast, milk and sugar. Start mixing.

02
Add salt and yolks. Knead the dough for at least 3 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.

03
Now, gradually add softened butter and continue kneading for about 10 minutes more. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour.

04
After that time, thoroughly knead the dough for good few minutes to get rid of most of the air trapped inside. Then cover with a tea towel again and rest in a fridge for about 12 hours.

05
Prepare the filling just like you would for Pierogi with Green Lentils.

06
After 12 hours, take the dough out of the fridge, dust your work top with some flour and evenly roll out the dough. You will need a large rectangle, about 35 x 45 cm. Cut the longer edge into three long strips of about 15 cm, put a portion of the filling in the middle of each strip and all the way down to the bottom edge, then roll and seal along the long edge. You can slightly pinch it together to avoid the filling coming out during baking. Cut the rolls into small pieces, about 5 cm wide.

07
On a parchment paper, gently place all the pasties you can fit. Put them upright, rather than on their side, you need to brown them from the top. Let them proof one more time for about half an hour, then brush them with egg wash (I like making it with a dash of milk) and bake in 180ºC for about 30 minutes, until they are beautifully golden and slightly crispy.

Enjoy!


Sweet Crêpes with Creamed Cottage Cheese Filling


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: naleśniki z serem [nah-lesh-nicky z sir-em]
DESCRIPTION: crêpes with cottage cheese
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

This humble meal was always the most delicious treat for us as children. Now, they may not look like much, but they are absolutely delicious! Even though they are sweet, they are not seen as dessert, but as quick lunch or supper.


8-10 servings (depending of the size of your pan) • Preparation time: about 30 minutes (up to 60 minutes with the resting time)


TIPS:


01
To make your crêpes even more special, you can add raisins and cinnamon to the cheese filling.

02
The cheese filling is delicious as it is, but since it contains egg, you need to fry the crêpes before serving them.

03
If you want to make them in advance, feel free. You can even freeze them! Simply prepare your crêpes, fold them with the cheese filling and refrigerate or freeze them. Take out ready to fry!

04
Serve with Polish for local sour cream. If you cannot get it, you can replace it with Greek yoghurt.

INGREDIENTS:


Crêpes:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
 1 cup of milk
✽ ¾ cup of water (sparkling will make the pancakes a little fluffier)
 2 eggs
 3 tablespoons of oil (try to choose a taste-neutral oil, so olive oil is not the best here)
 pinch of salt

Cheese filling:
 about 500 g of Polish cottage cheese
 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
 1 tablespoon sugar (you may add more you you like)
 ½ egg (crack an egg in a glass, mix it thoroughly and only add a half to your cheese)

METHOD:


01
Make a batch of thin crêpes as per these instructions.

02
In a bowl, combine and cream all ingredients and cream the cheese filling with a blander.

03
Spread the cheese filling in a half of each crêpe and, starting at the cheese side of it, roll or fold them forward.

04
Fry on medium heat on both sides, until beautifully golden and crispy. If you fry very cold crêpes, it is better to start with low heat to make sure that the cheese filling heats up as well.

Enjoy!


Heavenly Delicate Challah Topped with Sweet Crumble


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: chałka [how-kah]
DESCRIPTION: challah—sweet brioche type of bread
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European—Jewish

This is one of the most important types of bread of my childhood, so it took me ages to this recipe perfectly right. My prefect challah is delicate, but not too puffy, never ever dry and with shiny, dark golden crust.


2 challahs • Preparation time: about 35 minutes • Resting time: 1 hours plus 30 minutes • Baking time: about 20 minutes


TIPS:


01
Challah can be made sweeter if you want it as a dessert or a sweet snack, or less sweet if you would like to use it for an open, savoury sandwich. Adjust sugar accordingly – use 5 or even 6 tablespoons of sugar, if you like your bread a little sweeter, and reduce it down to 2 tablespoons, if you prefer your bread less sweet.

02
If you decide to make your challah less sweet, you can also top is with poppyseeds or sesame seeds, instead the sweet crumble.

BRAIDING TECHNIQUE:


01
Lay out all the strands to make it look like a 6-arm octopus and number them in your head them from 1 to 6 left to right. Now, it is time to weave! Take the strand 1 and place it all the way to the right, behind the strand 6.

02
Now take the strand 6 and place it all the way to the left. Your strands will now run 6, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, with strands 1 and 6 running on top of other strands. Strand 1 is first across and strand 6 is just below.

03
Now notice the middle of your challah, which is in between strands 3 and 4.

04
Take strand 1, move it over strand 6 and to the middle of your challah, so between strands 3 and 4. Your order now is 6, 2, 3, 1, 4 and 5.

05
Now take strand 2 and place it all the way to the right making it 6, 3, 1, 4, 5 and 2. The middle is now between strands 1 and 4. Take strand 6 and put it down over strand 2 into the middle.

06
In short, the general rule of weaving is this: you need two strands across your challah, one on top, one below. You place the one on top over the one on the bottom and in the middle of your challah. Then add another across strand coin in the opposite direction to the one you have left. Having two strands across again, always bring the top one across the bottom one in the middle of your challah. Repeat until you finish braiding all the strands.

07
At the end, pinch all strands together and fold underneath.

INGREDIENTS:


Challah:
 550 g all-purpose flour
 ½ cup warm milk
 ½ cup warm water
 30 g butter
 1 egg
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast

Sweet Crumble:
 1 tablespoon butter
 1 tablespoon flour
 1 tablespoon sugar

METHOD:


01
Melt butter in a small pot and set aside to cool.

02
Sift the flour, add all ingredients, including cooled, melted butter and knead for at least 20 minutes, until the dough is silky smooth.

03
Place it a bowl, cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place for it to rise for about 1 hour. Use these tips on raising a perfect dough.

04
After the dough has doubled its size, take it out on a worktop and knead for few seconds. Split it in two, cover one half with a tea towel and spilt the other one into six equal parts. Roll out each part to form 6 equal strands.

05
Lay the six strands side-by-side, then pinch all 6 tops together so they are connected at the top. Fold the pinched bit underneath, so the strands do not fall apart. Braid your challah slowly, closely following the directions above.

06
When you finish braiding both challahs, proof them in a warm place and covered with tea towels for about 30 minutes.

07
While you are proofing your challahs, make the sweet crumble. Simply combine all ingredients, form a neat ball and place in a fridge.

08
Once your challahs are proofed, cover them with egg white or egg wash, sprinkle with sweet crumble (the best way is to grate chilled crumble on a cheese grater and sprinkle on your loaves) and bake in 180ºC for about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!


The Best Doughnuts with Lemon Glaze with Strawberry and Rose Filling

Name and pronunciation: pączki z różą [punch-key z roo-Jean; “Jean” prononuced in a French way]
Description: doughnuts with rose filling

 

I love Polish doughnuts! They are absolutely delicious, not too sweet and much less dense than many other types of doughnuts. Also, they are always in a shape of balls and most often with lovely filling inside. They resemble berliners, but are more delicate inside. The most traditional type of Polish doughnuts is one with a rose jam filling and topped with thick glaze and candied orange peel.

10 doughnuts • Preparation time: about 45 minutes • Resting time: 1 hours plus 30 minutes • Frying time: about a minute for each doughnut

Tips:

01
Make sure you use enough flour for dusting your doughnuts before proofing. They will be very delicate and you do not want them to stick.

02
When placing your risen doughnut in the oil, handle them very gently. They need to stay perfectly round and fluffy.

03
While I absolutely love my doughnuts with a filling, my family prefer plain doughnuts, only glazed. It is perfectly fine, they will be lovely either way!

04
Every rose is edible, but you should never ever consume commercial roses from flower shops. They are treated with many chemicals and are never safe to eat. You can get dry rose buds in Asian shops or health stores, in a tea section. Simply remove the green parts and add the rest to the fruit.

05
You can mix the glaze with a spoon, but I like using a blender to make it super smooth.

Ingredients:

Doughnuts:
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 ½ cup warm milk
 2 yolks
 1 egg
 35 g butter
 4 tablespoons vanilla sugar
7 g dry yeast
⅓ teaspoon salt

Filling:
 4 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
 4 tablespoons sugar
 10 rose petals
 dash rosewater (can be replaced with plain water)

Lemon glaze:
 2 cups powder sugar
 lemon juice

Method:

01
Melt butter in a small pot and set aside to cool.

02
Meanwhile, beat the yolks with the egg with vanilla sugar until they are very fluffy and almost white.

03
Sift flour with salt into a mixing bowl. Add milk, yeast and eggs beaten with sugar, and gently mix.

05
Knead for about 15 minutes. The dough will be very sticky at first, but dusting the worktop with some flour will do the trick.

06
After 15 minutes, add melted, cooled butter and keep kneading. It seems like there is too much moisture at first, but keep kneading. Soon you will end up with a perfect, smooth dough. Keep going for another 15 minutes.

07
Cover and place in a warm place to raise for about an hour.

08
Use this time to make a filling. Making the filling is super easy. In a small saucepan, place strawberries, add a dash of rosewater, rose petals and sugar. Start with about 4 tablespoons of sugar and add more if you need to. Simmer on low heat and keep stirring every so often, so it doesn’t burn. Stop when the filling is nicely thick. Cool.

09
After an hour, you dough should be twice the size. Knead a little bit to let the air out and roll out on a worktop. Cut about 10 circles with a cake cutter or roll into 10 equal balls. You can weigh the dough portions to make sure they are the same. Dust with flour generously, cover with a tea towel and place on a flat surface to proof. Keep them quite far from each other, they will raise significantly.

10
Now, it is time to deep-fry them. I like using a wok for it. Heat up enough oil to cover a half of your doughnuts. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle when you place your doughnuts, but they should not brown too fast or they will burn. Gently place about 3 doughnuts in the oil and fry. When the bottom side is nicely browned, flip them using a straining spoon. Continue with the rest.

11
When brown on both sides, it is time to remove them from oil and place on a cooling rack.

12
If you choose to add filling, you need to do it when your doughnuts are just cool enough to handle, or the filling will not have enough space inside. You can either use a piping bag with a special, long tip, or simply get a syringe (the largest size). Pierce each doughnut on a side (the light ring is the softest part) and inject a portion of the filling to the middle of your doughnuts.

13
When cooled completely, cover with lemon glaze. To make glaze, simply add lemon juice to the sugar few drops at the time and mix energetically. Powder sugar mixes with the smallest amount of liquid and you need your glaze very thick, so be careful not to add too much juice at once. Dip doughnuts in gaze and sprinkle with finely grated lemon peel before the glaze sets.

Enjoy!

Most Delicate Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze, Rose Petals and Walnuts

I am very adamant about cakes that are too dry or too hard, so I absolute adore this recipe. The cupcakes are feather light, delicate and very moist inside. They also come out with flat tops, which makes them perfect for decorating. As it happens, no one in my family likes buttercream, so I always glaze them, or dust them and I love such neat, elegant finish.

Approximately 12 servings • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Baking time: 20 minutes

Tips:

01
The better you cream your ingredients, the more delicate the result. Butter and eggs need to beaten as well as possible, so take your time until they are smooth, visibly fluffy and almost white in colour.

02
Be very careful when you glaze your cupcakes. Sugar gets extremely hot and sticks to your fingers, so any encounter with skin is highly unpleasant.

03
Do not worry that if cupcakes change their height quite a lot during baking. It is perfectly normal. They will rise significantly at first, but then reduce to flat tops at the end.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
185 g unsalted butter (room temperature or softened but not melted in oven or microwave)
 235 g sugar
185 g all-purpose flour
125 ml milk
100 g baking chocolate
2 medium to large eggs
1 tablespoon cacao
 2 teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (optional, to decorate)
dry rose petals (optional, to decorate)
 crushed nuts of your choice (optional, to decorate)

Lemon glaze:
½ lemon (squeezed)
 1 cup powder sugar

Method:

01
Melt the chocolate using this tip. Set aside to cool down.

02
Meanwhile, beat the butter with sugar as well as you can. It needs to be very fluffy and white.

03
Separately, beat the eggs. Again, make sure they are fluffy and almost white. It is important for lightness of you cupcakes later.

04
Now, come back to the creamed butter. Add melted, cooled chocolate and blend together with a mixer using slower speed. After that, add the beaten eggs and gently blend as well.

05
Sift the flour, cacao and baking powder into the batter. Gently mix with a blender on a slow setting.

06
At the end, add milk and blend gently on a slow setting.

07
Use silicone moulds or a cupcake tray prepared with paper liners. Fill out the forms at about ¾, leaving a bit of space for the cupcakes to rise. Bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes. Cool down thoroughly before decorating.

08
In a small saucer, mix the lemon juice and powder sugar, and heat up continuously mixing. Take off the heat and mix for a while longer.

09
When your glaze starts cooling down and thickening, take your cold cupcakes, turn upside and gently dip in the glaze until the top is completely covered. Be careful not to hold the cupcake in hot glaze too long. You do not want the cupcake top to stick to the glaze too much and tear off the cupcake. Finish dipping with a little twist and lift. Add your dry toppings to the hot glaze and set aside to cool thoroughly.

Enjoy!

Delicate Crispy Breakfast Rolls

Name and pronunciation: kopertówki [koh-per-toof-key]
Description: “envelope” breakfast rolls
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

 

These would probably be my top 3 bread types in my childhood. Our local bakery baked them daily and I just loved them. Quite large, with delicate crispy crust and very soft inside, they resemble lighter version of ciabatta rolls.

Approximately 8 large or 16 small rolls • Preparation time: about 45 minutes • Resting time: 2 hours plus 30 minutes • Baking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
The dough for these rolls is quite delicate and slightly sticky, so before rolling it, make sure to generously dust the work surface, the dough itself and the rolling pin with flour. You do not want to work the flour into the dough, just coat it with flour all around, so you capture the moisture inside and prevent the dough from sticking 

02
If you want to preserve freshness of your rolls, freeze them after they have cooled down. Cut them in half to speed up defrosting later. Now you can enjoy perfectly fresh rolls without a constant effort. Amazing!

Ingredients:

 4 cups all-purpose flour
 2 cups tepid water
 2 tablespoons oil
 1 tablespoon dry yeast
 2 teaspoons salt
 1 teaspoon sugar

Method:

01
Dissolve yeast, sugar and oil in water. Sit aside for about 10 minutes.

02
Sift the flour and add to the water. Add the salt as well and knead for few minutes, until dough if formed. Leave aside for another 15 minutes. 

03
Knead again, this time for at least 10 minutes.

04
When the dough is perfectly smooth and springy, put it aside in a warm place for about 2 hours.

05
Generously sprinkle your worktop with flour and transfer the dough on it. Roll out in a large square until it is about 0,5 cm thick. Cut in rectangles in sizes you have chosen (small or large).

06
Prepare two baking trays lined with parchment papers or baking mats. Now gently fold each rectangle, but on in half. Choose a mark at about ⅓ and find there, so the top layer does not cover the bottom layer entirely.

07
Very carefully transfer your rolls on the baking tray and raise for another 30 minutes.

08
Bake in 190ºC for about 20 minutes until the crust is slightly golden. Cool down and serve.

Enjoy!

Delicious Apple Pie with Banana and Cardamom

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Apple_Pie_Banana002

Name and pronunciation: szarlotka [shar-lot-kah]
Description: apple pie
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

It is a delicious twist on my Traditional Polish Apple Pie. Adding bananas instead of upping the sugar is a great solution when your apples are not very sweet. Cardamom is amazing and flavourful, especially combined with cinnamon. Together, so good and easy to make!

10 servings • Preparation time: about 2 hours • Baking time: 50-60 minutes

Tips:

01
If your over tends to underperform at the bottom (like mine), pre-bake the bottom crust for about 10-15 minutes.

02
When you start, make sure butter is cold and very hard.

03
Used what you have in your kitchen to create an original look for your pie. Here, I used a pizza cutter to cut pastry strips and my son’s playdough star cutter, since my cookie cutters were too big.

04
Serve it with our thick, creamy caramel sauce. Amazing!

Ingredients:

Pastry:
300 g all-purpose flour
250 g butter
1 medium to large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
 1½ teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (or a mix of sugar and cinnamon) to dust

Fruit filling:
1 kg apples
 2 bananas
2 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cardamom (or more to taste)

Method:

01
Make traditional Polish apple pie pastry following these instructions and place it wrapped in a fridge.

02
Peel, cut and cook apples the same way as in the traditional recipe.

03
When the apples are soft, mash them, then add two mashed bananas, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. You can start from a teaspoon of each, but I actually like much more spices in my apple pie. They make fruit (especially apples) so fragrant and delicious.

04
Cool the apples throughly before layering them on the pre-baked bottom. It is an important step, since it will take you a little longer to place ornamental top and you do not want the heat from apples to melt butter in your apple pie pastry.

05
For the decorative top, roll out remaining half of cold pastry and cut any shapes you want. Gently lift them off the workspace with a wide, cold knife or, even better, a dough cutter. Place on cooled apples and bake the same as here.

Enjoy!

Luscious Thick Cacao Caramel Sauce

This sauce is more than just caramel. It is so perfectly thick, silky smooth, milky with a hint of cacao. I based it on traditional Polish chewy fudge candy called “krówki” (little cows). Perfect for any cake or pie, but apple pie especially, since apples and caramel go together so deliciously.

Tips:

01
Seriously, do not stop stirring the sauce even for a second. You will be rewarded for all your hard work by the most perfect caramel sauce you have ever tasted!

Ingredients:

250 ml condensed milk
 200 g honey
150 unsalted butter
1½ cup sugar
2 tablespoon cacao

Method:

01
Mix sugar with sifted cacao with a whisk. It will prevent big lumps of cacao forming in your sauce.

02
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan, preferably with a solid, thick bottom. You can opt for a non-stick pot, too.

03
Set high heat first and keep stirring the mix until all is combined and first bubbles appear.

04
Reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring constantly until all sugar caramelises and the sauce is thick and dark.

05
Take off heat and cool down. When it is cool enough, place the pan in the fridge. The sauce will loosen in room temperature, so it best to take it out at least 10 minutes before serving it.

Enjoy!